Literary Quotations
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QUOTES ON THE PAST


Shall we never, never get rid of this Past?... It lies upon the Present like a giant's dead body.

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, The House of the Seven Gables

The future was a matter of keeping the past at bay.

TONI MORRISON, Beloved

Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.

JANE AUSTEN, Pride and Prejudice

The future was sunset; the past something to leave behind. And if it didn't stay behind, well, you might have to stomp it out.

TONI MORRISON, Beloved

The reverberation often exceeds through silence the sound that sets it off; the reaction occasionally outdoes by way of repose the event that stimulated it; and the past not uncommonly takes a while to happen, and some long time to figure out.

Each future day increase of wealth shall bring,
And o'er the past Oblivion stretch her wing.

HOMER, The Odyssey

Only by acceptance of the past will you alter its meaning.

T. S. ELIOT, The Cocktail Party

What's past is prologue.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, The Tempest

As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our day.

MARGARET ATWOOD, The Handmaid's Tale

When I try to analyze my own cravings, motives, actions and so forth, I surrender to a sort of retrospective imagination which feeds the analytic faculty with boundless alternatives and which causes each visualized route to fork and re-fork without end in the maddeningly complex prospect of my past.

VLADIMIR NABOKOV, Lolita

You're always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.

RICHARD BACH, Illusions

The heart's memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and ... thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, Love in the Time of Cholera

What is miraculous about the past is that we have succeeded--God knows how--in making thousands and millions of individual human beings, lock well enought into one another to give us what looks like a common past, a shared story.

J. M. COETZEE, Elizabeth Costello

The past is funny ... it never seems to let things lie, finished. It never seems to stay in place as it should.

Men's memories are uncertain and the past that was differs little from the past that was not.

CORMAC MCCARTHY, Blood Meridian

Nothing is ever behind us.

ROBERTO BOLAÑO, 2666

Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real. The events that cause them can never be forgotten.

CORMAC MCCARTHY, All the Pretty Horses

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